This week, an important agreement was announced which will ease some restrictions on beef imports from the U.S. to Japan, the largest beef market in Asia. Japan will now permit the import of U.S. beef and beef products from cattle less than 30 months of age, an increase from the previous limit of 20 months. This change is expected to result in hundreds of millions of dollars in additional exports of U.S. beef to Japan in the coming years.
Although there remains work to be done, this announcement is one of many bright spots in the agriculture economy. Even amidst the worst drought in more than a half-century, Nebraska's farmers and ranchers are some of the most productive and efficient in the world. The high quality and affordability of American products is what make them sought by consumers across the globe.
Passage of a responsible, long-term Farm Bill can boost existing efforts by providing a strong safety net for producers and helping to build ties between U.S. exporters and their foreign customers. Agriculture research, for instance, is indispensable to promoting science-based food standards in the international marketplace. When other countries impose biased, unfounded regulations on U.S. agriculture products in the name of "food safety," research plays a vital role in demonstrating the quality and safety of American food.
Though Congress passed an extension of the previous Farm Bill through October of this year, we need a new long-term bill, and the new Congress provides an opportunity to start again.
Historically, the Farm Bill has passed out of the House Committee on Agriculture with broad bipartisan support. I served on the Agriculture Committee when the previous Farm Bill was signed into law. At the time, the committee unanimously supported the measure; a characteristic I hope can be achieved this time around. Once a bill is passed by the full House, we can utilize the established process and find common ground in a conference committee with our colleagues in the Senate.
To sustain the remarkable success of Nebraska's farmers and ranchers we need to continue to pursue new trade opportunities and to provide certainty through a Farm Bill. Agriculture and foreign trade remain bright spots in our troubled national economy, but we must continue to ensure producers have the certainty and opportunity they need to feed the world.